06 January 2012

Climategate ponderings

…”after all, all evidence of anthropogenic warming has been disproved…”

I don’t hear it very often, probably because I spend most of my time among people well-educated in climate matters, but every time you hear it it’s one time too many. I heard it a few weeks ago, from a person not educated in climate matters, but surely a most intelligent character. And it kept haunting me. He said this referring to “climategate”. Everyone has heard of it, but most have no real idea what it was about. As the allegations by climate sceptics who has found a flaw, and thus a stick to beat the dog with, were serious, big investigations were conducted to find out if indeed climate scientists were all crooks who made it all up and were all part of a big conspiracy, or whether they are just humans who are fallible like everybody else. Yes, sometimes people sit on their data; yes, sometimes people express themselves in a somewhat unfortunate way. Of course it pays off to display your results in such a light they look most interesting. And yes, of course there are cases in which people go little bit too far with this. Does that invalidate all of climate science?

I can’t possibly grasp how many people are working in this discipline, and how much data we gather in total, and how many papers we produce all together. It’s huge! Just suppose the investigations would have disclosed man-induced warming to be a myth; wouldn’t that have meant that thousands and thousands of scientists worldwide would have been fired? Wouldn’t governments worldwide have withdrawn their funding? Wouldn’t that have been a much bigger event than the Gulf Oil Spill*, for instance?

It’s not a useful question, for through investigation after investigation the data stood solid as a rock. (I know I'm only linking to Wikipedia in this entry, but that's a source people tend to trust more than most other sites I could link to!) That, however, is hardly a juicy piece of information. It’s more fun to keep your blinkers on and claim all evidence of anthropogenic warming has been disproved! As untrue as it is.

It’s even possible the guy who inspired this blog post was jesting, and I just didn’t notice. It's happened before. But the thought stands. There are really people out there that think it’s all a scam and such has been proven, but how do they fit that in with their vision on how society works? Are all governments in the conspiracy too?? Maybe they don’t think at all. Maybe I shouldn’t even care; governments know better to such extent they still support climate science, and how are some anonymous angry ignoramuses in the street going to affect that? But it bothers me anyway…

*ps I know the oil spill did goodness knows how much damage to the Gulf ecosystem, which hardly makes it comparable to mass collapse of a hypothetical climate scientists conspiracy, but I am certain that such event would beat the oil spill in human death toll...

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